Here will be my last football post for the moment. I said in my last post that if you’ve played high school football you’ve had some glory days. Well, you’ve also probably had some that were not so glorious. I had one such night against a team whose name I can’t remember now. You might think I’ve repressed the name because of the humiliation, but, if so, then why do I remember every detail of the actual humiliation?
Much like Huntsville had their Sasquatch halfback, this team had a Goliath. His position was wide receiver. You may remember that I often played cornerback, and I was playing it again this night. As luck—or the Devil—would have it, Goliath was on my side of the field and I was assigned to cover him. I was about five feet, eight inches at the time. He was at least a foot taller. Do you have any idea how much a “foot” is when you’re talking about receivers versus cornerbacks in football? I do.
The other team’s quarterback didn’t even have to be accurate. He just heaved the ball up in the air and let me and Goliath go up for it. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Goliath beat me out for the ball most of the night. He scored four touchdowns right over me. He caught other passes in between the TDs.
By the time Goliath was working on touchdown number three, I’d given up playing him legally. I was climbing all over him with every pass, and, let me tell you, it was a climb. I pulled his jersey, even tried tripping him. Nothing worked.
The referees must have felt bad for me. They didn’t even call any penalties on me, though I earned a few. Or maybe, in the reflected light of all Goliath’s awesomeness, they just didn’t notice me hanging around his waist like a monkey straight out of the barrel.
The only consolation was that Goliath lined up one time on the other side of the field from me. The cornerback there was a friend, but I’m ashamed to say that I felt a little relief when he didn’t do any better than I did. They only threw one pass to him on that side—Goliath’s fifth touchdown of the night.
I remember coming off the field after Goliath’s fourth TD pass. He caught it one handed because I was attached like a long, skinny leech to his other arm. There were tears of frustration in my eyes. None of my teammates would look at or talk to me. I understood.
But Coach Tadlock came over to me. He didn’t yell. He didn’t get in my face. He slapped me on the shoulder pads. “Keep doing the best you can,” he said. That was one thing about Coach Tadlock. He knew when you were giving it your all, and if that’s what you were doing and were still unsuccessful, then he didn’t blame you for it. I’ll always remember that about him.